Wat Pho is an iconic landmark of Bangkok that is on everyone’s bucket list; a perfect place to visit during your vacation in the city of angels even on a short trip.
But why visit? Firstly, it is the oldest temple in Thailand and is also home to the country’s most important school of medicine and traditional massage. Secondly, it is the sanctuary of one of the world’s largest Buddha statues, plus more than a thousand unique images. Also, it is the largest temple in Bangkok which has received a UNESCO Memory of the World award. And, most importantly, it is one of six first-class royal temples, where the ashes of King Rama I are enshrined.
Wat Pho is just next to the Grand Palace of Bangkok. Therefore, it is convenient to combine both visits on a half-day exploration of Ratankosin (Bangkok old city). It’s an easy 10-minute walk between the two and we recommend coming to Wat Pho second because even though the golden Buddha is just as popular as the Grand Palace, many people don’t take the time to wander around the rest of the complex, making for a more relaxing experience.
The highlight for most people visiting Wat Pho is the Reclining Buddha. The figures here are impressive: 15 metres tall and 46 metres long. It’s so large that it feels like it’s been squeezed into the building. The Buddha’s feet are 5 metres long and exquisitely decorated in mother-of-pearl illustrations of auspicious laksanas (characteristics) of the Buddha. The number 108 is significant, referring to the 108 positive actions and symbols that helped lead Buddha to perfection.
Make sure you walk around and admire the 91 Chedis beautifully decorated with ceramics. 71 of them contain the ashes of the royal family and 20 large ones contain the ashes of Buddha. Four very large chedis are dedicated to four kings. Each of the sixteen gates in the walls surrounding the temple is guarded by two stone giants brought from China.
It also goes without saying that taking lots of photos of the reclining Buddha statue is a must!
Behind the statue, there is a fun traditional way to make a donation and pray for good luck. For 20 baht you receive a tin cup full of ‘satangs’, which is a quarter of a baht. Drop one coin in one of each bowls representing the 108 auspicious characters of Buddha to bring you good fortune.
After a walk around the temple, there’s nothing quite like a relaxing foot or head and shoulder massage. If you’ve never tried a traditional Thai massage, Wat Pho is a good place to experience it.
There are plenty of transportation options for getting to Wat Pho including tuk-tuks, taxis, public buses, river boats and other options.
Via Chao Phraya River Boat
If you would like to take a ride for some sight-seeing on the enchanting Chao Phraya river, then this is definitely the best way to experience both of them together during your vacation. The Chao Phraya river boats disembark at the Tha Tien Express Boat pier on the eastern bank of the river. An easy 5 minute walk from Tha Tien pier will get you to the northern entrance of Wat Pho.
Via Tuk-Tuk or Taxi
Tuk-tuks are one of Bangkok’s most famous traditional transportation options and also the fastest way for sight-seeing around the city – they really are a must-try experience while you are here. If you are unsure whether to take a tuk-tuk or a taxi, then a tuk-tuk is probably the way to go as they can maneuver through gridlocked traffic fairly easily.
Via Public Transportation
If you are on a tight budget then you can get to the Wat Pho temple relatively cheaply via a combination of excellent and fast public transit options including the BTS Sky Train, MRT subway and Bangkok bus system.
The Wat Pho complex is open to visitors between the hours of 8:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. on a daily basis. As with most tourist attractions, you will find that the temple is not too busy in the morning while the afternoon tends to be packed with visitors.
The entrance fee is 100 baht (approximately $3 USD) for all visitors except for children under height of 120 cm (4 feet) who receive free admission.
Please follow the strict dress code! All visitors must wear appropriate clothing with no exposed shoulders or skin above the knee to respect the sacredness of the place. For women, cover the shoulders and chest area and wear bottoms that go past the knees. For men, long pants and shirts with sleeves are required. Visitors need to take off their shoes and leave them on the shelves outside before entering any of the religious buildings.
*If you’re not dressed according to the dress code, they also offer clothes so you can cover up (provided at a small cost).
Address: 2 Sanam Chai Rd, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200
Phone: 02 226 0335
Official name: Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram Rajwaramahawihan
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